How to Choose the Right White Wall Paint

I love what white walls can do for a space

so it’s no surprise that WHITE became the colour of choice for my client’s beachfront condo walls. Why? Why not!? White is neutral, clean, crisp and relaxing. It does not distract from the beautiful view of the ocean, and can remain pretty timeless. AND, in a tropical setting, white remains a constant sense of coolness that keeps mind and body feeling relaxed and comfortable.

Choosing the perfect paint colour can greatly affect the ambiance of the space. The walls were painted a creamy builder-standard beige, and while my design concept was suited to a white colour palette, the existing white on the walls was just not good enough. I know that choosing white paint can be very tricky – there are many types of white, the question is, which one is best? So, after sourcing the major pieces of furniture and textiles, I purchased samples of the paint options and applied them to the walls throughout the main living space to view how the colours would appear throughout the day. It’s important to test the colours near a natural light source as well as a man-made light source. The type of lamps chosen will also affect the colour of paint, especially if it’s white, so it’s best to have as many ducks in a row as possible before making the big commitment to buying a LOT of paint.

Many choices when it comes to WHITE..

As you can see from the colour swatches above, white is not always white! Sometimes, it’s blue, or pink, or yellow, or VERY yellow. In any case, testing each option will help you make a decision.

testing paint options

The top 3 to choose from.

I narrowed down all the options to the “Top 3″ shown above. As you can tell, when each sample is shown next to one another, the differences in the pure nature of the hue becomes more obvious. It looks like I have a soft pink, soft blue and light yellow sample, right? Wrong. All the colours are part of the Glidden Master Palette white collection. Here’s what they looked like on the wall:

testing white paint

Stripes of blue, yellow and pink? Yikes!

I decided to paint the tester stripes of paint on the wall to compare the “whites” and wow, did the original hues of each white ever stand out! You can really tell how dingy the original builder-standard white paint appears after more crisp versions of white were applied. Now, when testing various paint colours on the same wall, REMEMBER this important tip:

DO NOT allow the paint samples to touch one another…ensure enough negative space between each sample so that each sample is surrounded by the wall’s original colour. Why? Because colours affect one another, and if you remove the constant variable (of the same background colour, for example) for one paint colour option, you will not have a clear idea of how the colours look in comparison to the original wall on an equal basis. Geez, that was wordy…does it make sense? Just trust me on this one…leave the original wall colour around each paint sample to ensure equality when you are ready to step back and admire/compare the new samples.

So, there you have it. Curious how it turned out? Here’s a reminder from last week’s post:

White walls, white ceiling, white light fixture, white sectional, white area rug and white entertainment unit.

Remember that different types of white have different psychological effects on the viewer. For example, the more “hyper white” options will have a blue hue to them and in some cases, can make a space feel physically colder (think ice, snow, slate…that stuff is COLD!). Creamier whites with a yellow base will appear warmer and more inviting, but these types of white are not always best-suited to a modern space (like the condo above). For a more contemporary or modern white, I’d opt for a brilliant white (blue!), but for a more organic space, the soft white (yellow!) is best. The above photo shows an example of a blue-white on the walls, but the space has many warm finishes that off-set the blue-white colour from feeling too cold (the Panamanian sun keeps the space feeling humid and hot all the time during the day, so that helps too).

Before committing to a large scale painting project, test each colour near a natural and synthetic light source before making a decision. Check the paint with your other finishes (your sofa upholstery, the area rug, the flooring, etc.) and then once you have observed the colour options in the morning, afternoon, evening and night, you can make a decision confidently :) And if you can’t…well, you can always HIRE ME to help you decide. *Shameless plug*

Happy painting, folks :)

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7 Comments

  1. Lovely work on wall paint! I’m definitely going to visit the blog frequently.

  2. I still love this project. I think that people underestimate the power of white. It’s so strong when done right, like your project. The blues become brighter and bolder, which is the point, right? Job well done friend.

    Krista
    http://www.therenoprojects.blogspot.com

  3. Thanks, Krista :) I agree – white is often overlooked, but it leaves a great impact! Thanks for reading!

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  7. very nice living room and looking beautiful interior works

    Thank you for sharing

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